Friday, 19 June 2015

European Court of Human Rights agrees websites are responsible for user comments

Slashdot reports that a recent ruling from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in the case of Delfi AS v. Estonia has found it perfectly acceptable to hold websites responsible for comments left by users. In the surprise decision, the court has ruled that the Estonian news site Delfi may be held responsible for anonymous and allegedly defamatory comments from its readers.
A blogpost from the Media Legal Defence Initiative summarizes the reasons why the court came to this unexpected decision. The ECHR cited "the 'extreme' nature of the comments which the court considered to amount to hate speech, the fact that they were published on a professionally-run and commercial news website," as well as the "insufficient measures taken by Delfi to weed out the comments in question and the low likelihood of a prosecution of the users who posted the comments," and the moderate sanction imposed on Delfi.
Experts are worried the ruling will encourage websites to censor content posted by users out of concern that they're opening themselves up to legal liability. The judgment also seems to support the claim that "proactive monitoring" can be required of website owners.

Congress dot gov webinar available as recording

If you missed the Introduction to Congress dot gov webinar on June 11, it is now available as a ~1 hour recording from the Library of Congress. Very useful.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports availability

The New York Times has an editorial titled "Congressional Research Belongs to the Public" in which they urge the incoming Librarian of Congress to make CRS reports readily available to the public. "Given the extreme partisanship and gridlock in Congress, it’s more crucial than ever to have an informed electorate. Putting these reports in the public domain is an important step toward that goal."

Thursday, 11 June 2015

LLOC index of Congress reports

In an effort to highlight the legal reports produced by the Law Library of Congress (LLOC), their display on the Library of Congress website has been revamped. The new Comprehensive Index of Legal Reports will link to all reports available on the website. This will also be the exclusive location to find reports written before 2011, including some of the more popular reports. The reports listed on the Comprehensive Index page are divided into specific topics designed to point users to the reports of greatest interest and relevance. Each report listed is under only one topic and several topics are not yet filled (“forthcoming”). The LLOC plans to add many reports from our archives to this page over the next few months, filling in all of the topics.
The Current Legal Topics page will now only contain the most current reports. This list of reports also includes a short description explaining what you will find in each report.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Congress dot gov webinar June 11

The next Congress.gov Webinar offered by the Law Library of Congress is June 11 from 2:00-3:00 EDT. Congress.gov, the official website for U.S. federal legislative information, was launched Sept. 19, 2012. This orientation is designed to give a basic overview of the site. While the focus of the session will be searching legislation and the Congressional member information attached to the legislation, the new features of Congress.gov will be highlighted. Registration is free.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

News from the US Copyright Office

"The U.S. Copyright Office has published a Federal Register notice requesting written comments to assist it in developing draft legislation that would establish a legal framework for certain mass digitization activities. For the past several years, the Copyright Office has been exploring ways to facilitate and support mass digitization projects serving the public interest while appropriately balancing the interests and concerns of copyright owners. In its recently issued Orphan Works and Mass Digitization Report, the Office proposed the creation of a limited “pilot program” that would allow certain types of mass digitization projects to be authorized through a system known as extended collective licensing (ECL). The ECL pilot program recommended by the Office would enable users to digitize and provide access to certain works for research and education purposes under conditions to be agreed upon between rightsholder and user representatives. Because the success of such a system depends on the voluntary involvement of both copyright owners and users, the Office is inviting public comment on several issues concerning the scope and operation of the pilot program. The Office will then seek to facilitate further discussion through stakeholder meetings and, if necessary, additional requests for written comment. Based on this input, the Office will draft a formal legislative proposal for Congress’s consideration.
Written comments are due on or before August 10, 2015."

Monday, 8 June 2015

Albany Law School & U. Albany move toward affiliation

The Albany Business Review reports that the Albany Law School and the University at Albany have announced they are finalizing an agreement to affiliate. A joint letter from the Albany Law School Dean and the President of the University of Albany describes the plan, and says that the schools plan to complete a formal agreement by the end of October. The letter states that the affiliation is not a merger, as both schools will remain financially independent and there are no plans to change their names. Additionally, the schools would retain their respective accreditations and continue to issue their own degrees. But benefits of affiliation include cost-savings for students, expanded course and degree offerings and joint research and funding initiatives..  Albany Law has an enrollment of 477 students. U Albany enrolls more than 17,000.

Friday, 5 June 2015

FBI tells Congress new law needed to address social media

Computerworld reports that the FBI told the the U.S. House of Representatives' Homeland Security Committee that a new wiretap law is needed that will require social media websites to share customers' communications with law enforcement agencies the same way that telecom carriers do. Terrorists are increasingly using social network tools to recruit converts, but much of the recruiting is done in the open, three government witnesses told the committee.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Federal Courts report improved use of jurors

The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts on behalf of the Federal Judiciary reports that 2014 shows a better Use of jurors in the Federal Courts. According to their statistics, the national average of jurors in federal district courts who were not selected, serving or challenged (NSSC) on the first day of jury service fell to 36.8 percent in 2014, compared to 37.7 percent in 2013. They add that "If you’re a potential juror, that’s very good news. It means 3,046 potential jurors were not called to the courthouse unnecessarily." Decreasing the number of prospective jurors who are NSSC is a Judiciary-wide goal. The Federal Judicial Center conducts regular Juror Utilization and Jury Management Workshops, the most recent in March 2015, to help courts better use jurors.

Open Government Guide to state open records policies

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has an online Open Government Guide containing a complete compendium of information on every state's open records and open meetings laws. Each state's section is arranged according to a standard outline, making it easy to compare laws in various states. There is also a search function that allows you to compare one "outline point" across your selection of multiple states.
hat tip: BeSpacific